Celebrating Women’s History Month: Mrs. Kathryn Johnson

By Caitlin Easter

For my final blog of Women’s History Month, I would like to talk about a woman who not only made an incredible impact in my life, but also works every day to show every young girl that has the privilege to meet her what it means to be a strong woman. Mrs. Kathryn Johnson majored in Secondary Education with a focus in English and a minor in Speech and Theater at the University of Missouri – Kansas City and went on to get her Masters in School Counseling from the University of Central Missouri. Mrs. Johnson taught and counseled at a few different schools before finally landing in the town where I would finally have the chance to meet her, Warsaw. I’ve known her for quite a while as I grew up in the same class with one of her sons, but it wasn’t until the 8th grade that I was able to meet Mrs. Johnson in the capacity that had the strongest influence on my life. Serving as not only the Guidance Counselor of John Boise Middle School, but also as the Speech and Debate coach of Warsaw High School, she influenced my life in many ways. She served as trained shoulder to cry on and an advocate for my mental health when I pushed myself too far with obligations. From being the person who shared her hidden chocolate with me on bad days to being the person who introduced me to Speech and Debate and fielded my first mental breakdown in college, Mrs. Johnson did—and continues to do—it all.

In her role as my speech coach, she allowed me to realize my potential and led me to State Speech for three of my four years in high school. And one of those years, she went way past what is expected of her, more than she even usually does, and took on a huge time commitment to allow our group event, Reader’s Theater, to write our own piece. Reader’s Theater is a collaborative event by a team that uses more of an interpretive style of acting as opposed to normative styles of acting; with Reader’s, you have a lot more freedom to interpretation and you are allowed to write your own performance piece instead of using an existing one. As the wife of a farmer, the mother to two boys, a Guidance Counselor, an active community member, and the coach of a speech and debate program, there isn’t much time left over for anything else, but that didn’t stop her from doing so much more. She took it upon herself to lead a group of eight girls to find our vision and write our piece, and then she organized, edited, and directed it alone. Our piece was entitled “Fight Like a Girl” and embodied the struggles and triumphs of being a woman as written and told by eight students and one amazing teacher, as well as a few already existing poetry pieces that we mixed in. We covered everything from periods, to what it is to be a woman, to our own personal stories of sexual assault and abuse. She led us in our triumphs such as making State Speech and our shortcomings such as missing qualifying for finals at state by a single place. She allowed us to tell the truths of being a woman even though some people in my rather small community might not approve. She allowed us to experience being a woman through the eyes of girls with different viewpoints, cultures, ages, and experiences. She didn’t ask us to perform a pretty piece to appease everyone who was going to watch it, she asked us to perform our piece in a way that was true to ourselves and what we wanted to say. She didn’t do the job for the recognition or the pay, she did it for us and would do it for anybody who walked through those school doors.

She is one of the biggest reasons I came to UMKC, but beyond that she is a huge reason that I am the woman I am today. Always going a step further than she is called to, Mrs. Johnson will forever be tied with some of my best memories, as my mentor, my friend, and generally one of the greatest women I will ever know.

Celebrating Women’s History Month: Medea Benjamin

By: Christina Terrell

Medea Benjamin is an American activist who has advocated for human rights for over twenty
years. Benjamin has traveled to many different countries learning and advocating, writing eight books that are about her experiences abroad along the way. In 2002 Benjamin’s activism took a change of color and tone when she became the co-founder of the women’s organization CODEPINK. A woman led organization that is “working to end
U.S. wars and militarism, but supports human rights and initiatives, so that we can redirect our
tax dollars into healthcare, education, green-jobs and other life affirming programs.” Benjamin
and other prominent CODEPINK founder’s make it their duty to partner with lots of local
organizations who are sure of imposing joy and humor with tactics such as street theatre, creative
visuals, civil resistance and always challenging powerful decision makers in the government and
major corporations. While doing all this, Medea and her Code Pink crew never forget to support
their cause by wearing the lovely color pink!

In the years that Medea Benjamin has been active as an American activist she has had many successes. For example, in 2006, Code Pink put out their first book as an organization that was titled “Stop the next war Now; Effective Responses to Violence and Terrorism”, which was a book that contained a collection essays contributed from very prominent woman involved with activism. Benjamin was then nominated alongside other influential women for the “1000 Women for The Nobel Peace Prize”, which was a collective nomination for women representing women who work for peace and human rights everywhere. Then again, in 2012, Medea Benjamin was awarded the US Peace Memorial Foundation’s Peace Prize to recognize her creative leadership on the front lines of the anti-war movement. Medea Benjamin has been advocating for twenty plus years and she does not seem to be slowing
down anytime soon!

Women’s History Month Trivia

by Matiara Huff

Question 5: Who is the first African-American woman to lead an S&P 500 company and currently serves as a founding board director of ‘Change the Equation’?

Ursula Burns

By U.S. Government Printing Office [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Ursula Burns was the first black women to become the CEO of a fortune 500 company. She became CEO of Xerox in July 2009 until December 2016. In 2014 Forbes rated her the 22nd most powerful women in the world. Though both of her parents were Panamanian immigrants, she was raised by her mother alone in a housing project in New York.

Her career at Xerox began as a summer internship which turned into a permanent position a year later when she finished her master’s degree at Columbia University. In January 1990, she became an executive assistant to a then senior executive. In June 1991, she became the executive assistant to then chairman and chief executive Paul Allaire. In 1999 she became vice president for global manufacturing. In May 2000, she became senior vice president of corporate strategic services where she worked closely with soon to be CEO Anne Mulcahy. They both described it as a true partnership.

Since she finished working at Xerox, Burns has become a founding Board Member of Change the Equation, which is an organization working to improve STEM-based education.

Why We Celebrate Women’s History Month

by Matiara Huff


Marie Curie– A physicist and chemist who conducted pioneering research on radioactivity, she discovered Radium and Polonium.

Dorothea Lange– A documentary photographer and photojournalist who helped bring light to the realities of the great depression.

Sybil Ludington– became famous for her night ride in 1777 to alert militia forces to the approach of the British regular forces.

Sojourner Truth– After escaping slavery to freedom with her daughter, she went to court to save her son from slavery. She was the first black woman to win this type of case to a white man.

Helena Rubinstein– American businesswoman who formed one of the world’s first cosmetic companies.

Jackie Joyner-Kersee– One of the most successful female track and field athletes, she won Olympic gold in Heptathlon and Long Jump.

These are all women we either never learned about or briefly skimmed their accomplishments. All of these women lead incredible lives worth knowing about. However, as we get older and technology becomes more advanced, their stories and accomplishments become shorter and shorter. The list I have provided is just what I could find in a quick google search, but I challenge all of you this month to actually learn about one of them or any woman in history. Take the time to learn about an important women and her life instead of just her accomplishments. As a woman, the pressure to achieve greatness is stronger than ever. By looking into the lives of great women, I think you will find comfort in humanizing them.

Remember that the reason we celebrate Women’s History Month is to learn from our history, and celebrate the contributions of the women who helped us get this far.

Today’s Trivia: Who was the Kansas City civic leader recently inducted into the UMKC Starr Women’s Hall of Fame in 2015?

Adele Hall

Adele Hall, 1931 – 2013, was a much beloved woman in Kansas City, best known as a civic leader and philanthropist. Many know Hall because of her marriage to former CEO and chairman of the board of Hallmark Cards, Donald J. Hall, Sr., but it was her commitment to community service and generosity that made her such a leader in Kansas City.

A champion of children’s needs, Hall served as board chair of Children’s Mercy Hospital, who named their Hospital Hill campus after her following her death in 2013. Nationally, Hall volunteered with the National Commission for Children, raising awareness on issues pertaining to children beyond Kansas City. Along with Children’s Mercy, Hall served on many local boards, including the Salvation Army (for which she served over 30 years), Nelson-Atkins Museum of art, Pembroke Hill School, American Red Cross, and Starlight Theatre, as well as board chair of the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation. To say her interests in the local community were numerous and broad is putting it lightly.

On top of her commitment to local civic leadership, Hall served on the national boards of United Negro College Fund, the Points of Light Foundation, American Academy of Pediatrics, Partnership for Children, the Menninger Foundation, George Bush Presidential Library Center, and the Library of Congress Trust Fund.

Along with local service and children’s needs, Hall was instrumental in starting and supporting women’s groups in Kansas City, and was the co-founder of both the Central Exchange, which helps women enhance their careers, and the Women’s Public Service Network, which provides the support for women looking for leadership positions, ranging from corporations to state government.

Hall has been well recognized by organizations in Kansas City and around the nation for her dedication and tireless work to help others. Such awards include Philanthropist of the Year from the Kansas City Council on Philanthropy, the William F. Yates Trustee Medallion for Distinguished Service from William Jewell College, and an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of Nebraska (her alma mater, where she studied elementary education and English). UMKC has honored Hall twice, first by awarding her with the Chancellor’s Medal in 1987, and most recently, her posthumous induction to the UMKC Starr Women’s Hall of Fame. On top of this, STOP Violence Coalition named her the Kindest Kansas Citian, and in 1990 she was the first woman named Kansas Citian of the Year.

Adele Hall’s contribution and commitment to Kansas City was immeasurable, and she left an incredible legacy of dedication, selflessness, and community.

Women’s History Month Trivia Contest!

March is Women’s History Month – a month celebrating the invaluable contributions, commitment, and sacrifices women have made for our society.

Starting in 1981, Congress passed a public law declaring one week in March as “Women’s History Week” in an effort to better inform people about the roles women have played in our history. 1987, Congress designated the month of March to serve as “Women’s History Month,” thanks to petitions from the National Women’s History Project. For this year’s Women’s History Month, The National Women’s History Project is honoring Women in Public Service and Government, focusing on the influence and dedication women have had through their leadership to public.

In honor of Women’s History Month, we will be hosting a month-long trivia contest beginning March 1st. Here is the break down for each weeks question themes:

Week 1: General Women’s History

Week 2: Women in Local Service and Government

Week 3: Women in State Service and Government

Week 4: Women in National Service and Government

Each day (Monday-Friday), we will send a question out on campus Scala boards and through our Facebook and Twitter accounts. Everyone (students, staff, community) is welcome to answer the daily question! Here are ways you can answer the trivia questions:

  • Calling or emailing the Women’s Center
  • Retweeting a Twitter post and using #Roos4WHM
  • Commenting on the Facebook post or sharing the Facebook post with the question on your own page with the answer using #Roos4WHM

Pretty easy, right? Answers for each question will be posted the following morning on our blog!

On top of that, anyone who answers a question (right or wrong!) will get a small prize from the Women’s Center! The person who answer the most correct answers at the end of the week will be eligible to win one of our weekly prizes, including gift cards from Cupcake A La Mode, Minsky’s Pizza, Winstead’s, or merchandise from Starbucks!

Who doesn’t want to learn more about Women’s History Month, especially when they can win some swag??

Contest starts Tuesday, March 1st. Our first question will be posted between 8:00-9:00am! Let’s do this, #Roos4WHM!

Women’s History Month: Lena Horne

Image sourced through Creative Commons via Google Images

Image sourced through Creative Commons via Google Images

By Rocky Richards

Women’s History Month is celebrated throughout march, so here’s another history moment for you! Earlier this month, the Women’s History Museum took the time to acknowledge Lena Horne’s work. If you have not seen women’s history museum, women in a minute on Lena Horne please take the time now to view their video.

Lena Horne was born in Bedford–Stuyvesant, Brooklyn on June 30, 1917. She was known as an Actress, American Singer, Dancer, and Civil Rights Activist. Horne started her career at a very young age. At sixteen, Lena joined the chorus line of the Cotton Club in New York City before moving to Hollywood. She is known for her roles in Cabin in the Sky, Stormy Weather, and many others. For 70 years Lena Horne was in films, on television, and on Broadway. Lena Horne starred in a one woman show in 1980, which ran more than 300 performances on Broadway and earned her numerous awards and accolades.

Aside from Horne being very talented, she was also involved with the Civil Rights Movement. Horne performed at the march on Washington on behalf of NAACP, SNCC, and the National Council of Negro Women. During World War Two, Lena refused to perform for segregated audiences or for groups in which German Prisoners of War were seated in front of African American servicemen.

After all of her great work, Lena Horne passed away on May 9, 2010. Lena Horne has been as inspiration to me because she used her talent to speak out against discrimination against black Americans. Thanks Lena Horne for all that you accomplished for women today!

Women’s History Month Trivia Table!

2015-Tabling-eViteBy Kacie Otto

I always love when the Women’s Center has an event scheduled. First of all, it means we have the chance to get out of the office to connect with more students about gender equity, and it also makes the day go by super quickly.

Today, I’m looking forward to our Women’s History Month Trivia Table! From 1:00-3:00 stop in the Royall Hall Lobby. We are giving away prizes and we hope to see you there! We can’t wait to try to stump you with some fun trivia questions about super cool women.

Women in History

March is Women’s History Month. If you are like me, Women’s History Month is not something I know a lot about or something that I can remember hearing about before coming to work at the UMKC Women’s Center.  I remember in school hearing about Black History Month but Women’s History Month? Not until this year.

While it could be my perspective or school district, I find it odd that so many of us haven’t heard of Women’s History Month. So I decided to do a little web research to find out what it was all about.

Women’s History month started out in 1978 as Women in History Week, which was an effort to use education as a way to recognize and celebrate women’s accomplishments and contributions throughout history. Following this in 1980, a group of women got together and formed the National Women’s History Project. The Project was created to make sure women were being recognized for their contribution and roles in American history. The NWHP has worked for 25 years on this goal. Women’s History Week became Women’s History Month in 1987.

Each year the NWHP chooses a theme for Women’s History Month. For 2010 the theme is “Writing Women Back in History.”  The theme is not just for 2010 but also for the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the National Women’s History Project. The theme is about the need to make sure that women are not getting written out of history.

The National Women’s History Project and the celebration of Women’s History Month are things that we should make the effort to not only be aware of, but also to take pride in all that women have accomplished throughout history and making sure that all those accomplishments continue to be recognized, celebrated, and shared with future generations.